Whirlpool teams up with connected kitchen startup for interactive cooking
Whirlpool's luxury-brand wall ovens will eventually use the weight of your food to cook your meal automatically.
Ashlee Clark ThompsonAssociate Editor
Ashlee spent time as a newspaper reporter, AmeriCorps VISTA and an employee at a healthcare company before she landed at CNET. She loves to eat, write and watch "Golden Girls" (preferably all three at the same time). The first two hobbies help her out as an appliance reviewer. The last one makes her an asset to trivia teams. Ashlee also created the blog, AshleeEats.com, where she writes about casual dining in Louisville, Kentucky.
Watch this: Soon your food will talk to you through your kitchen
Next year, a line of ovens from Whirlpool will really get to know the food you cook -- and maybe even teach you a thing or two.
The appliance manufacturer will include software in its Jenn-Air-brand wall ovens that will guide you through recipes and cook your food at optimized settings based on its weight, the company announced Thursday. The ovens with the updated software will be available in 2017.
The software comes from Innit, a Silicon Valley startup founded in 2013. The goal of Innit's software is to connect your large kitchen appliances so that they talk to one another and help you prepare a meal. Innit works with existing technology inside smart appliances, such as cameras in refrigerators and ovens and food recognition technology, to determine what food you have on hand, provide you nutritional info and keep you posted about when the food will go bad, suggest recipes and tell you how to cook a meal.
Here's how the Jenn-Air wall ovens will work: Let's say you want to roast a chicken. Innit will suggest chicken recipes, and its app will guide you step-by-step through the prep (the app will even provide you with videos so you can see an example of how to truss a chicken, for example). Then, you enter the weight of the chicken in the oven. From there, the oven will automatically cook the chicken based on algorithms Innit developed. The process will include switching between several of the oven's cooking modes such as broil and convection roast. Meanwhile, you can work on other dishes or step away from the kitchen.
"Connectivity helps unlock the full potential of a product," said Brett Dibkey, Whirlpool's vice present and general manager of integrated business units.
We've seen a growing number of attempts at innovative kitchen technology that are intended to take the guesswork out of cooking and help you make consistently good food. But many of these products have come from startups that focus on small appliances such as the Pantelligent smart frying pan or the Anova Precision Cooker with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. And like Innit, startups have started to apply algorithms and facial recognition to food to create small appliances that cook automatically, such as the June Intelligent Oven and the Tovala Smart Oven.
The Whirlpool-Innit collaboration is the latest example of big-name manufacturers that have become serious about making kitchens smarter by adding connectivity, cameras and other tools to large appliances -- just take a look at the Samsung Family Hub.
The partnership is a natural fit for the two companies. Whirlpool has been aggressive in introducing connectivity to its large kitchen appliances. Ranges and ovens from both the Whirlpool and Jenn-Air brands have wireless connectivity that lets you control the appliances from an app on your mobile device. The parent company has also shown a willingness to work with other smart-home companies; Whirlpool announced this year that its Wi-Fi enabled ranges and ovens would work with the Nest Learning Thermostat and a dishwasher that works with Amazon Dash replenishments. And until this week, Innit was a company with the software know-how to potentially connect kitchen appliances, but didn't have a brand to call home.
Innit and Whirlpool decided to put the software in ovens first because of the instant gratification that comes with using technology to cook a great meal with confidence, company reps said.
"If we can create that delight, once [people] see it and taste it, they realize how their lives can change," said Kevin Brown, co-founder and CEO of Innit.
Update June 20: Added more details on how Innit's system will work.